Environment and Climate Change

Gaia’s Map of 1.3 Billion Stars Makes for a Milky Way in a Bottle

Call it a galaxy in a bottle. Last Wednesday, astronomers in Europe released a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way. Dennis Overbye The New York Times It is the most detailed survey ever produced of our home galaxy. It contains the vital statistics of some 1.3 billion stars — about one percent of the whole galaxy. Not to mention measurements of almost half a million quasars, asteroids and other flecks in the night. Analyzing all these motions and distances, astronomers ... Read More »

Why you can’t have free trade and save the planet

When Donald Trump recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminium imports he was condemned by proponents of free trade across the world. His critics said the US president had not understood how protectionist policies would spell disaster for the world economy. Alf Hornborg The Conversation Fair enough. But this is the same Trump whose decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement also met with massive disapproval. Trump is simultaneously chided for refusing to cut emissions, and for promoting a ... Read More »

Thailand protesters in rare rally over Chiang Mai development

Protesters in Thailand have staged one of the country’s biggest demonstrations since the 2014 military coup as they campaign against a luxury housing development on forested land. BBC More than 1,000 people gathered in the northern city of Chiang Mai. They rallied against a housing project being built for judges and officials in the foothills of a sacred mountain. The march went ahead in defiance of a ban on public gatherings imposed by the junta, which seized power in 2014. ... Read More »

EU to ban bee-killing pesticides

EU countries voted on April 27 for a near-total ban on insecticides blamed for killing off bee populations, in what campaigners called a “beacon of hope” for the winged insects. BRUSSELS – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world’s major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from “colony collapse disorder,” a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or a combination of these factors. The 28 European Union member states approved a ... Read More »

How can we communicate all that nature does for us?

As a conservation professor I believe people need to understand why protecting nature matters to them personally. Julia P G Jones The Conversation Appealing to human self-interest has generated support for conservation in Switzerland, for example, where the government protects forests partly because they help prevent landslides and avalanches, or among communities in Botswana which conserve wildlife partly because of the… But this understanding risks being obscured by unhelpful arguments over terminology. The story starts in 2005, when the Millennium ... Read More »

Gaza now has a toxic ‘biosphere of war’ that no one can escape

Gaza has often been invaded for its water. Every army leaving or entering the Sinai desert, whether Babylonians, Alexander the Great, the Ottomans, or the British, has sought relief there. Authors: The Conversation But today the water of Gaza highlights a toxic situation that is spiralling out of control. A combination of repeated Israeli attacks and the sealing of its borders by Israel and Egypt, have left the territory unable to process its water or waste. Every drop of water ... Read More »

‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention

The 86-year-old social scientist says accepting the impending end of most life on Earth might be the very thing needed to help us prolong it Patrick Barkham The Guardian ”We’re doomed,” says Mayer Hillman with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process ... Read More »

Ancient Amazonians lived sustainably – and this matters for conservation today

Our colleague, the archaeologist Santiago Rivas, recently made a remarkable discovery. Authors (4) The Conversation On a small plateau above the outskirts of Iquitos, a town in the northern Peruvian Amazon, he found a layer in the soil which contained small pieces of ceramic pottery, that were around 1,800-years-old. Digging deeper, he found another layer of soil, this time containing pottery that was about 2,500 years old. This is the archaeological site at Quistococha which has been occupied for at ... Read More »

Bangkok’s bad air driven by car-making success

Forward-looking policies promoting electric and hybrid auto production could soon have Thailand’s polluted capital breathing easier Peter Janssen Asia Times During Thailand’s February-April hot season, when the winds off the Gulf of Thailand die down and there is little rainfall, air pollution in the capital, Bangkok, is often palpable. In mid-February, the situation got so bad that the government’s Pollution Control Department advised residents to stay home, especially those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments. Some Bangkok schools ... Read More »

Google Is Indonesia’s New Weapon in War on Illegal Fishing

Indonesia’s Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti deals with some dangerous men in her role, but they don’t rattle her. She has an equally intimidating weapon on her side: Google. Partnering with the search engine firm, Pudjiastuti is catching illegal fishing activity in real time, after thousands of vessels’ locations were revealed online. In her mission to clean up an industry once the domain of crooks, she’s convinced powerful local operators with foreign interests to stop practices that were robbing the economy ... Read More »

Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn

How close the world is to a catastrophic collapse of giant ocean currents is unknown, making halting global warming more critical than ever, scientists say Damian Carrington The Guardian Serious disruption to the Gulf Stream ocean currents that are crucial in controlling global climate must be avoided “at all costs”, senior scientists have warned. The alert follows the revelation this week that the system is at its weakest ever recorded. Past collapses of the giant network have seen some of the ... Read More »

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans oil exploration

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending her Government’s dramatic ban on offshore oil exploration, saying the transition to a zero-carbon economy “must start somewhere” and promising that no jobs will be lost. Isaac Davison NZ Herald “Unless we make decisions today that will essentially take effect in 30 or more years’ time, we run the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities and our country,” she said at a press conference in Wellington this morning. “I ... Read More »

Brussels NO DEAL fears

REVEALED: EU panic as UK set for TOTAL control of waters EUROPEAN Union fears of a no-deal Brexit intensified tonight after officials admitted it would mean Britain would regain TOTAL control of its fishing waters. Joey Millar Express Brussels has spent much of the months-long negotiations demanding the UK jump through hoop after hoop, reminding Theresa May and her Brexit ministers on several occasions: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” The prospect of a no-deal situation has been repeatedly ... Read More »

Identity crisis in Lithuania’s bohemian republic

Gentrification threatens the artists’ colony where ‘a dog has the right to be a dog.’ By GINGER HERVEY Politico VILNIUS — In Užupis, Lithuania, a gate is not just a gate. A gate, you see, is a symbol — of barriers, of impossibilities, of divisions between people and of outdated ideas about property. A symbol that might belong in oldLithuania, but is unwelcome in Užupis, a bohemian self-proclaimed republic in the center of the former Soviet country’s capital. Not that Užupis ... Read More »

Madagascar’s vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation

As the price of pods has soared so has violence – and forest defenders are increasingly risking their lives to protect precious wildlife habitat from being felled for profit Jonathan Watts The Guardian The vanilla thieves of Anjahana were so confident of their power to intimidate farmers they provided advance warning of raids. “We are coming tonight,” they would write in a note pushed under doors in this remote coastal village in Madagascar. “Prepare what we want.” But they either undervalued ... Read More »

Australia’s greenest energy companies leave big retailers behind

Powershop and Diamond Energy have been voted as Australia’s most green energy retailers in Greenpeace’s electricity guide. Cole Latimer The Sydney Morning Herald The two retailers were the only companies to win a five out of five star rating in the third annual Green Electricity Guide from Greenpeace and the Total Environment Centre. “In taking the top two places for the third time running, five-star retailers Powershop and Diamond Energy continue to be the guiding lights in the retail energy ... Read More »